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Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine sought assurances the Navy would maintain a fleet of 11 aircraft carriers — a vital issue in his state of Virginia, where carriers are often based and repaired.
Polls show the American public split on the overall issue of defense spending. Republican voters are more likely to say it should be higher while Democratic voters are more likely to say it should be lower. But maintaining bases and manufacturing operations becomes much more sensitive when it affects jobs close to home.
More battles between the administration and Congress are lurking. Speaking to reporters, Levin said the Pentagon's proposal to scrap the Air Force's A-10 "Warthog" tank-killer aircraft would be a particularly tough sell. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said scrapping the plane was a "serious mistake" and vowed to fight it.
Governors, too, have entered the fray over plans to transfer equipment from Army National Guard units. Some in Congress oppose almost any cuts at all.
"We have been cutting and cutting for the last five years," said Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., the Senate Armed Services Committee's top Republican.